Esther’s Blog: Standing together, we can make the dark green diffe­rence

14 March 2023

First of all, I would like to express my heart-felt sympathy to all the people affected by the terrible earthquakes in Turkey and Syria. The suffering there is incalculable. Fortunately, there are many courageous people hard at work in this region to help the most vulnerable humans and animals among the victims. Our friends from the Animal Save Movement have set up a centralised fundraising campaign to ensure that money and supplies are sent where they are needed most, in both Turkey and Syria. If you can spare anything, please donate. All help is still desperately needed.

Restrain destructive agribusiness
Standing shoulder to shoulder with citizens, we are achieving more and more victories against the lobbying of big companies that harm our health and planet. In February, we received some great news: the European Union wants to withdraw from the climate-destroying Energy Charter Treaty. The treaty protects energy companies and allows large-scale polluters to file billion-euro claims against governments that want to take climate action. Thanks to the efforts of many citizens, organisations and the Party for the Animals, the EU will finally quit this treaty.

In my previous blog, I also discussed the importance of opposing the trade agreement between the European Union and South American countries (the Mercosur Treaty). This treaty is a disaster for farmers, food security, nature and climate, and it is also conducive to the violation of human rights in South America. This month, we in the Netherlands won yet another round in our battle against this megalomaniac treaty! On the initiative of the Party for the Animals, the Dutch Parliament swept the new Mercosur Treaty off the table. In fact, the Dutch Parliament did the same three years ago, but the European Commission is still trying to find a few loopholes to get the treaty adopted. We have now blocked this once again. Nevertheless, it remains important that people all across Europe continue to speak out against these plans. Together, we can stop them once and for all, and take concrete action to ensure the protection of nature and a healthy agricultural system.

Big companies in the agricultural industry have made a lot of money in recent decades from economies of scale in livestock farming. With the unbridled growth in the number of farm animals and the focus on producing as much as possible at the lowest possible price, animal feed companies, supermarkets, slaughterhouses and banks have led farmers down a blind alley and caused great harm to society. Now that it has become clear that our agricultural system needs to be reformed in favour of nature-inclusive, organic and more plant-based alternatives – and that farmers need assistance in this process – the government should force agribusinesses to contribute fairly to a transition fund. This is severely needed for animals, for people, for our climate and for nature. We plan to submit this proposal in the Dutch Parliament.

It simply cannot be the case that taxpayers alone pay for the damage done to nature by big agricultural businesses. There is no country in the world with as many animals per square metre as the Netherlands. The companies that have earned their fortune from the huge Dutch livestock population and have always lobbied aggressively against shrinking this should be the first to pay for the damage they themselves have caused. Many farmers in the Netherlands do not have a revenue model: in fact, these farmers serve as the revenue model of these agriculture giants. We aim to change that.

Last week, the extent of the damage done by agribusiness was once again revealed through the publication of a European study on agricultural toxins. The report showed that the Netherlands are European champion with regard to the use of agricultural toxins, and that these toxins – including carcinogenic substances – are found not only in farmers’ soil, but also in their homes and in their very blood. There is clear evidence that the use of agricultural toxins on this scale leads to medical conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and reduced fertility. This has to be stopped! The Party for the Animals is therefore also fighting in Europe and in the Dutch Parliament to ban agricultural toxins, for the protection of human health. We want to help farmers rapidly phase out the use of agricultural toxins.

Party for the Animals team in action.

Every vote can make dark green difference
Important regional elections are being held in the Netherlands on 15 March. There is no time to lose if we still want to solve the climate and biodiversity crises in time and prevent even greater problems. Expats and international students living in the Netherlands are permitted to vote for the water boards – a lesser-known yet important political body where many decisions are made about nature, environment, climate and animals. So, do not hesitate to vote and encourage people you know to do the same. A vote for the Party for the Animals is a vote for a healthy future, with more nature, affordable and green housing, clean water and air, and strict policies against big polluters. If you are an international or know any internationals in the Netherlands, here is more information on how expats and international students can vote. Every vote can make the dark green difference!

Cheers, and until next month!

Ester Ouwehand
Political Leader of the Dutch Party for the Animals